Is there any progress in saying that gay romance comics can be as stupid and silly as they are honest? That’s the dilemma one encounters when looking at My False Boyfriend, a superficial entry into the world of romantic comedy that has no business to be as enjoyable as it is. The thin material, stretched even thinner by an overabundance of wobbly pin drops and a striking product placement, is saved by its trio of main actors … but only barely.
The film is the latest release from Buzzfeed Studios, and it feels exactly like one of those pop culture lists that a website publishes every 10 minutes: Short, lively and discardable, leaving you with a sense of no knowledge gained and some time consumed, though pleasure. It seems designed for viewers with nothing better to do, which is the highest praise one can give to a film like this.
My False BoyfriendThe plot is mischievous but promising: After trying unsuccessfully to move on from his vain soap opera boyfriend, Andrew (Keiynan Lonsdale) enlists the help of his best friend, Jake (Dylan Sprouse), and Jake’s girlfriend, Kelly (Sarah Hyland). , to untangle himself from his emotionally violent ex, Nico. After witnessing Andrew’s failed attempts at dating, Jake comes up with an idea: Why not create a fake online boyfriend to make Nico jealous and so unwilling to interfere in his ex’s life to speed up his self? Armed with too much time and graphic design skills, Jake evokes Cristiano, an impossibly handsome internet boyfriend who runs with the bulls in Pamplona, dives for fun, and fulfills every need Andrew desires.
There is no spoiler to state that the scheme works … for a while. Complications result when Andrew meets an attractive chef, Rafi, and begins to fall in love truly, while Jake develops an unhealthy obsession with Cristiano, which symbolizes everything he wishes he could be and isn’t. Cristiano’s growing worldwide popularity, combined with Nico’s growing suspicion that his ex’s new lover is too good to be true, all comes to mind in a third act that is both predictable and exhausting to endure. The required code that binds all loose ends does its best to redo things, and for the most part it works.
An essential element to the charm of the film is the main actors, who raise the material that could have been made unseen by less charismatic performers. Like Andrew, Lonsdale possesses vulnerability and honesty rare in romantic comedy leads, gay or honest. You are invested in his emotions, even if they are manipulated by a plot that, at times, strains credibility. Jake de Sprouse could be a lazy brother like Seth Rogen Knocked Up or Jason Segel in Forgetting Sarah Marshall, but instead he is almost as delicate as Andrew. Jake’s romance with Cristiano isn’t mined for just comedy; there is a real pathos there, and it is to the credit of the film that it gives Sprouse enough space to show it.
As Jake’s girlfriend, Hyland shows the cracking comic timing she developed in the later seasons of Modern Family. With her kewpie doll face and saucer eyes, she has the look and feel of a 1930s screwdriver, and she does as much as she can with her somewhat limited role. All three actors have a relaxed, lively atmosphere that sells the intimate and kind-hearted friendship of their characters. While one or more of them are on screen, the movie is buzzing nicely.
Actors can only do so much, and it’s in other areas, specifically the uneven direction and paper thin writing, where My False Boyfriend is a train. The director, Rose Troche, showed skill for modern screw comedy with the farce Bedrooms & Corridors two decades ago, and that looks through a number of sequences in My False Boyfriend, especially in the creation of Cristiano in the first act. However, there are other times, especially in the tense climax that involves an absurdly staged burial, where the direction feels flat and uninspired and the shop-drawn manuscript shows all its clichés.
It also doesn’t help that the film asks the audience to believe it’s happening in New York City when it’s clearly not. With its spacious apartments and almost empty restaurants, My False BoyfriendBig Apple is not convincing, and although this may seem like a minor dispute, it does break the delicate spell that the film weaves (it was shot in Ontario).
Stars are stars for some reason, and some are attracted only by pure magnetism. Lonsdale, Sprouse, and Hyland make this movie viewable, and sell its absurd condition. At a time when romantic comedies are struggling to survive, and LGBT people are still rarely coming, My False Boyfriend is a curved entertainment graded on a curve. Just don’t focus too much on its many flaws and you should be fine.
My False Boyfriend is now streaming on Prime Video. For more new movies and shows in June on this streaming service, check out what’s new in Prime Video.